Talking to strangers to get advice can sound intimidating, but more often than not, professionals are eager to share their experiences and help a fellow scientist. After all, they were in your shoes once. Not sure how to get started? Follow these ground rules when connecting with a professional:
- Be specific about your request - I'd like to ask about your transition / I read your LinkedIn and am curious about your experience at a start-up and big pharma (rather than "can we talk").
- State your connection - UCSF or introduction by a colleague.
- Be flexible about a time to talk on the phone or meet. Give windows of time or open days.
- Be brief - the goal is that the reader should be able to read and respond to your request in 2 minutes.
1. Preparing for the informational interview
- Read these steps on How to Conduct Informational Interviews and Sample Questions to Ask, from OCPD.
- Use your hard-won research skills to conduct effective informational interviews, from ScienceCareers.org.
- Learn how to talk to people about their career paths, from ScienceCareers.org.
2. Sample emails and thank you notes for informational interviews
- For sample correspondence showing how to request (and thank someone for) an informational interview, as well as sample questions you can ask during an informational interview, check out the "Talk to People" section of ScienceCareer's myIDP site.
3. Resources for making connections
- LinkedIn is not a place to collect contacts. Use LinkedIn to build your network by connecting with professionals in career paths or organizations of interest. Tips for contacting someone via LinkedIn.
- Join a professional society and attend their events to make connections with professionals with common interests and goals
4. Networking at Conferences
- Make the most of your conference, a BioCareers article
- Consider volunteering at a conference to make connections. Read this successful story about networking at a conference, a ScienceCareers article
- Have a business card ready to trade with your new connection! Read about how to make business cards, on BeyondAcademia
5. Networking for Introverts
Did you know that introverts are natural networkers? Introverts possess characteristics such as good listening skills, focusing on others, asking well-formed questions, and following up. Check out the resources below to learn how to apply your strengths as an introvert in a networking setting.
- Watch Networking for Introverts (Youtube video), an interview with award winning author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain. (Note: Tips start at about 8min 30 sec)
- Read more about effectively networking as an introvert in Networking for People Who Hate Networking, by Devora Zack (available for check out from the OCPD Resource Library).